Scientific research suggests that leading a brain-healthy life may reduce the risk of developing dementia later in life. However, there are no guarantees. As yet, dementia can’t be prevented or cured but there is evidence that people can reduce their risk of dementia and other chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer by adopting healthy lifestyles.
Leading a brain-healthy life means looking after your brain, your body and your heart. The earlier you do this the better, but it is particularly important once you reach middle age when changes start to occur in the brain.
There are a number of ways to keep your brain healthy and reduce your risk of developing dementia later in life.
1. Look after your heart
What’s good for your heart is also good for your brain.
Your chances of developing dementia seem to increase if you have problems that affect your heart or blood vessels.
2. Be physically active
Exercise gives your brain a boost. There is strong evidence that people who do regular physical activity have healthier brains and a lower risk of dementia.
3. Mentally challenge your brain
Your brain benefits every time you learn something new. Learning may maximise your cognition (understanding things) and ability to maintain a level of good brain power. So, take up a new language or a new sport, and mentally challenge yourself as much as possible.
4. Follow a healthy diet
Feed your brain well by maintaining a healthy diet. You can find tips about what to eat in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
5. Enjoy social activity
Socialise with people whose company you enjoy. If possible, try some activities that involve both mental and physical activity such as dancing or a team sport.
Two more strategies that may reduce your risk of developing dementia are:
- Avoiding injury: Be safety-conscious and reduce falls or accidents — people who have had serious head injuries have a higher risk of dementia.
- Managing depression: People who have had depression have a higher risk of dementia.
How to reduce your risk of dementia - expert advice
Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising, having a good diet and reducing your blood pressure and cholesterol can help reduce the risk of developing dementia. Watch the video below and find additional advice that can help reduce this risk.
Last reviewed: October 2018